Now we come to the reign of Darius the Mede, who ruled over the Babylonians after Belshazzar fell. In the first year of Darius' reign, Daniel says that he was reading about how the prophet Jeremiah said that Jerusalem would stay destroyed for seventy years before it could be restored.
So Daniel goes into fasting mode, dressing down in some sackcloth and smearing himself in ashes.
Dan then prays to God, praising him and confessing to him on behalf of all Jews. He says that they have been unfaithful to God's law and have acted wicked and rebelliously. They have also ignored the messages that the prophets gave to them and to their leaders.
Daniel continues in this vein. He says that, whereas God is righteous, Israel and Judah and their leaders and authorities need to be full of shame. He asks God for mercy and forgiveness, confessing that all of Israel has been guilty of rebellion against God's law and failing to live up to it.
They've violated Moses' oath to God, says Dan, and now they're paying the punishment. God has allowed Jerusalem to be conquered and plundered—something totally unprecedented in Israel's history.
Daniel continues confessing the sins of his people to God. He then asks God again for mercy, pleading with him to turn his wrath away from Jerusalem.
He asks God to turn his face towards now-desolated Jerusalem. He further asks for God's forgiveness toward a nation and a city that bear his name.
It Gets Better (then Way Worse, then… Better Again)
While Daniel is seeking forgiveness from God in the course of making his prayer, Gabriel shows up again at the time reserved for evening sacrifices.
Gabriel tells Daniel that he is here to give him a message and says that he (Daniel) is greatly beloved by God.
He says that God has decreed that Jerusalem will remain desolate for seventy weeks. This is in order to atone for its sins, to allow it to regain its prophetic mission, and to anoint a holy place.
There will be seven weeks until Israel gets a new prince, and it will take sixty-two weeks to partly rebuild it—though that time period will still be troubled.
After the sixty-two weeks are over, things are going to get bad again: the soldiers of a new conqueror are going to destroy the city and an "anointed one" will be cut off from Jerusalem.
The new (and apparently wicked) ruler is going to be constantly fighting wars and his reign will finally end "with a flood."
But before that happens, the wicked ruler will make a corrupt deal that will last one week. For half of that week, he will be able to stop sacrifice and offerings to God in the temple. Instead, he will set up an "abomination that desolates" in their place, which will end when the ruler is finally destroyed and permanently defeated.